Baked fish sticks are a healthy way to bring back a childhood favorite

Baked fish sticks are a healthy way to bring back a childhood favorite

I have the best memories of eating fish sticks as a child. It was one of the few frozen convenience foods my parents bought, and it felt like a special occasion. I loved being able to eat them with my fingers, dipping them in ketchup like fries. They were even better on the rare evenings I ate them on a folding tray in the living room while watching TV.

Craving that worry-free dining experience, I recently considered a package of frozen fish sticks at the grocery store. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of their ingredients: just fish, oil and breadcrumbs. But knowing how easy they are to prepare, how much fresher and more flavorful they can taste when homemade, and how much I prefer them baked rather than fried, as the packaged versions usually are, I I decided to choose the ingredients to prepare my own.

Get the recipe: Baked fish sticks with tartar sauce

Any firm white fish makes good fish sticks, so I opted for the nicest, most economical fillets in the store. It turned out to be haddock on this particular visit, but cod, scrod, pollock, tilapia or halibut would all work well.

My tip for getting a nicely browned and crispy coating without risking overcooking the fish is to toast the breadcrumbs first. So I mixed some panko with olive oil, spread it evenly on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for a few minutes until it turned a nice brown color Golden. To add more flavor, I seasoned these breadcrumbs with paprika, garlic, salt and pepper, and beat a little Dijon mustard into a few eggs.

Then I started dipping – first in flour, then in the egg mixture and, finally, in the seasoned breadcrumbs. The coated fish sticks are put back on the same baking sheet and in the oven.

While the fish was cooking, I made a quick, healthier tartar sauce by stirring yogurt and a little mayonnaise with chopped sweet and sour pickles and green onions. You can swap capers for the pickle and chives or onion for the green onion if you like. (I outgrew ketchup with my fish sticks, but no judgment if you prefer that.)

After 10 minutes the fish came out with a crispy exterior and a very tender and flaky interior. Dipped in the creamy and tangy tartar sauce, they hit the mark just as I had hoped. And yes, I still satisfied my nostalgia by eating them while watching my favorite show.

Get the recipe: Baked fish sticks with tartar sauce



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